MLB In Bloom - Does Risk Goes A Long Way in Fantasy Baseball? - 4/4/2014

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The first week of the Major League Baseball season has already seen several injuries to key players and fantasy owners are already having to make decisions. Whenever there is a decision to be made, the safe option is usually the right one. In fantasy baseball, smart picks will usually provide the best results. Accumulate the most value and conventional wisdom says your team is better than the rest in your league. But, that line of thinking assumes everything goes mostly according to plan. However, the most likely outcome is not always what happens. Players come out of nowhere to have the best season of the career and on the flip side, players that we all expect to have productive seasons end of falling flat. For example, last year many of the experts projected Albert Pujols to have a big year in Anaheim. Instead, Pujols had the worst season of his 13-year career as he played in fewer than 140 games. On the other hand, Chris Davis was always known as a talented first baseman, but in 2013 he lead the majors in home runs with 53. Fantasy owners need to know that researching players is pivotal to winning a league, but there is a lot of luck as well. Take some risks especially early in the season and you may just be the last one standing in October.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Jason Kipnis and the Cleveland Indians agreed to a six-year, $52.5 million contract extension on Thursday. The two sides had set Opening Day as a deadline for extension talks, but they were close enough to the finish line at the end of spring training that talks spilled over into the regular season. The deal also includes an option for a seventh year, while it locks up another one of the Indians' core pieces. Kipnis' contract is nearly identical to the extension signed by Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter this winter.
  • Coco Crisp hit a walkoff home run on Thursday night to lead the A's to a 3-2 win over the Mariners. He finished 1-for-3 with three walks, two runs scored and his second steal of the season. Crisp had a career year in 2013, hitting 22 homers and stealing 21 bags. Another 20/20 season appears to be attainable for him.
  • Jonathan Broxton (forearm) will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Pensacola Friday.The Reds haven't set an exact day for Broxton's activation from the disabled list, but they seem to be targeting next Monday. He's expected to serve as the club's closer until Aroldis Chapman returns from the disabled list next month.
  • Aroldis Chapman (head) visited a doctor Wednesday and says he feels great. Chapman has yet to start exercising, but his optimism is a promising sign for Reds fans. His surgery last Thursday went well, though, and he should expect to resume throwing within roughly a week.
  • Todd Frazier belted a solo homer and a three-run blast in Thursday's loss to the Cardinals. Frazier is trying to bounce back this season after a 2013 campaign that saw him bat just .234. With the power potential Frazier provides, he needs to be owned in NL-Only formats and deep mixed leagues. One has to expect the batting average to improve this year as well.
  • Chris Archer threw six strong innings to earn the win against the Blue Jays on Thursday. Archer allowed just two runs and four hits with seven strikeouts. Archer gave up two runs in the fourth inning, but was otherwise effective and efficient. He's one of the best young pitchers in baseball, and should post strong numbers this season.
  • Brandon Belt hit a solo homer in Thursday's 8-5 win against the Diamondbacks. Belt has already hit three home runs this year after hitting just 17 last year. His power has progressed each year in the majors though, so a breakout in 2014 is more than possible.

MLB In Full Bloom - Smokin Hot Smoak Leads Mariners - 4/3/2014

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Justin Smoak continued his torrid opening series on Wednesday night in Anaheim as the Mariners completed a three game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels. Smoak went 2-for-5 on Wednesday night with a home run in an 8-2 victory over the Angels. Smoak collected two hits in each blowout victory (10-3, 8-3, and 8-2) of the three-game sweep. Smoak hit a double, a couple homers and seven RBI. Smoak is a notoriously streaky hitter so fantasy owners that own him need to remember that we're only three games into the season. Even if everything goes south from the rest of the way, Smoak owners will always have memories of the .462 batting average in the opening-series. Enjoy the ride while it lasts.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Emilio Bonifacio went 5-for-7 with a walk and two steals as the Cubs' leadoff man Wednesday in another Cubs loss to the Pirates. Bonifacio went 4-for-5 on Opening Day and is wasting no time showing the Cubs and fantasy owners that he could be the leadoff hitter the Cubs have been desperately looking for the past century.  Bonifacio will certainly cool off, but fantasy owners that got him in drafts are enjoying his .750 BA. He does have three steals to go along with the two pickoffs in the first two games.
  • Dan Haren was very impressive in his Dodgers' debut on Wednesday against the Padres. He gave up just one run, no earned runs over six innings of a 5-1 victory. He struck out six Padres and didn't walk a batter. Haren will face Max Scherzer and the Tigers on Tuesday evening.
  • Jim Johnson has two appearances in the first three games as the Athletics closer this season. In those two appearances, Johnson has surrendered five earned runs on five hits and three walks in those two appearances with Oakland. He took a loss on Monday and a blown save last night. Manager Bob Melvin emphasized that it’s just two games and said that the A’s know Johnson’s track record. The A's should be 3-0, but instead are staring at a 1-2 record and Johnson's 45.00 ERA today. If Johnson continues to struggle, Sean Doolitte could be next in line to be the A's closer.
  • Jonathan Papelbon blew the save on Wednesday as he gave up a  two-run lead as the Rangers walked-off with a 4-3 victory. In his one inning, Papelbon allowed three runs on four hits and two walks. Papelbon's velocity was a big concern last season and last night his fastball was topping out at 90-92 mph, which is several mph below where he used to be just two years ago.
  • Yu Darvish (neck) will get the start Sunday for the Rangers against Alex Cobb in Tampa Bay. He threw an 86-pitch bullpen session Tuesday, and the outing must have been successful, as Rangers are not wasting no time getting him back on the mound. He was scratched as the Opening Day starter due to neck stiffness.
  • Anibal Sanchez will get the start on Thursday for the Tigers against the Royals. Sanchez had not appeared in a game since Mar. 12, but he was able to throw a simulated game last weekend and was ready to make his season debut today.
  • Chris Young (quad) was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right quad strain. Young suffered the strain in one of the Mets' late-March exhibition games in Montreal and then aggravated it Wednesday night in his first start of the 2014 regular season. Young is hopeful that he will be able to return in 15 days.

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